Exchequer

Statistical Chicanery: Texas Budget Edition

The Paul Krugman–led chorus trying to discredit Texas’s economic model has been claiming that Texas relied more heavily than any other state on federal stimulus money to close its budget gap. And there is an element of truth to that: Stimulus funds, they point out, covered 97 percent of Texas’s shortfall. Is that because Texas is, in the words of Jason Kuznicki (who should know better), a “welfare queen?” Or is it because Texas had a fairly small gap to begin with, so the federal funds went a lot further in covering it?

That 97 percent figure got retailed all over the place — CNN, Jon Chait at The New Republic, etc. But it is basically meaningless to say that “Texas was the state that depended most” on stimulus funds without taking into account the size of the gap covered. Texas’s was just $6.6 billion. For comparison, California’s deficit in 2009 was more than $26 billion.

The fact is that Texas, at $985 per capita, received less stimulus funding than almost any other state. (Virginia and Nebraska were lower.)

It is no surprise to find Paul Krugman manipulating figures, but I am surprised by the number of people who fell for this storyline.

—  Kevin D. Williamson is a deputy managing editor of National Review and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, just published by Regnery. You can buy an autographed copy through National Review Online here.

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